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Title 5

Displaying title 5, up to date as of 9/16/2021. Title 5 was last amended 9/13/2021.

Title 5

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Subpart A - Classification and Declassification of National Security Information
§ 1312.1 Purpose and authority.

This subpart sets forth the procedures for the classification and declassification of national security information in the possession of the Office of Management and Budget. It is issued under the authority of Executive Order 12958, (60 FR 19825, 3 CFR, 1995 Comp., P.333), as implemented by Information Security Oversight Office Directive No. 1 (32 CFR part 2001), and is applicable to all OMB employees.

§ 1312.2 Responsibilities.

The effectiveness of the classification and declassification program in OMB depends entirely on the amount of attention paid to it by supervisors and their staffs in those offices and divisions that possess or produce classified material. Officials who originate classified information are responsible for proper assignment of a classification to that material and for the decision as to its declassification. Officials who produce documents containing classified information must determine the source of the classification for that information and must ensure that the proper identity of that source is shown on the document. Custodians of classified material are responsible for its safekeeping and for ensuring that such material is adequately marked as to current classification. Custodians are also responsible for the control of and accounting for all classified material within their area of jurisdiction as prescribed in OMB Manual Section 1030.

(a) EOP Security Officer. In cooperation with the Associate Director (or Assistant Director) for Administration, the EOP Security Officer supervises the administration of this section and develops programs to assist in the compliance with the Order. Specifically, he:

(1) Promotes the correct understanding of this section by all employees by providing annual security refresher briefings and ensures that new employees attend initial briefings about overall security procedures and policies.

(2) Issues and keeps current such classification guides and guidelines for review for declassification as are required by the Order.

(3) Conducts periodic reviews of classified documents produced and provides assistance and guidance where necessary.

(4) Maintains and publishes a current listing of all officials who have been designated in writing to have Top Secret, Secret, and Confidential original classification authority.

(b) Heads of divisions or offices. The head of each division or major organizational unit is responsible for the administration of this section within his or her area. Appropriate internal guidance should be issued to cover special or unusual conditions within an office.

§ 1312.3 Classification requirements.

United States citizens must be kept informed about the activities of their Government. However, in the interest of national security, certain official information must be subject to constraints on its dissemination or release. This information is classified in order to provide that protection.

(a) Information shall be considered for classification if it concerns:

(1) Military plans, weapons systems, or operations;

(2) Foreign government information;

(3) Intelligence activities (including special activities), intelligence sources or methods, or cryptology;

(4) Foreign relations or foreign activities of the United States, including confidential sources;

(5) Scientific, technological, or economic matters relating to the national security;

(6) United States Government programs for safeguarding nuclear materials or facilities; or

(7) Vulnerabilities or capabilities of systems, installations, projects or plans relating to the national security.

(b) When information is determined to meet one or more of the criteria in paragraph (a) of this section, it shall be classified by an original classification authority when he/she determines that its unauthorized disclosure reasonably could be expected to cause at least identifiable damage to the national security.

(c) Unauthorized disclosure of foreign government information, including the identity of a confidential foreign source of intelligence sources or methods, is presumed to cause damage to the national security.

(d) Information classified in accordance with this section shall not be declassified automatically as a result of any unofficial or inadvertent or unauthorized disclosure in the United States or abroad of identical or similar information.

§ 1312.4 Classified designations.

(a) Except as provided by the Atomic Energy Act of 1954, as amended, (42 U.S.C. 2011) or the National Security Act of 1947, as amended, (50 U.S.C. 401) Executive Order 12958 provides the only basis for classifying information. Information which meets the test for classification may be classified in one of the following three designations:

(1) Top Secret. This classification shall be applied only to information the unauthorized disclosure of which reasonably could be expected to cause exceptionally grave damage to the national security that the original classification authority is able to identify or describe.

(2) Secret. This classification shall be applied only to information the unauthorized disclosure of which reasonably could be expected to cause serious damage to the national security that the original classification authority is able to identify or describe.

(3) Confidential. This classification shall be applied only to information the unauthorized disclosure of which reasonably could be expected to cause damage to the national security that the original classification authority is able to identify or describe.

(b) If there is significant doubt about the need to classify information, it shall not be classified. If there is significant doubt about the appropriate level of classification, it shall be classified at the lower level.

§ 1312.5 Authority to classify.

(a) The authority to originally classify information or material under this part shall be limited to those officials concerned with matters of national security. The officials listed in this section are granted authority by the Director, OMB, to assign original classifications as indicated to information or material that is originated by OMB staff and relating to the national security of the United States:

(1) Top Secret and below:

(i) Deputy Director.

(ii) Deputy Director for Management.

(iii) Associate Director for National Security and International Affairs.

(iv) Associate Director for Natural Resources, Energy and Science.

(2) Secret and below:

(i) Deputy Associate Director for National Security.

(ii) Deputy Associate Director for International Affairs.

(iii) Deputy Associate Director for Energy and Science.

(b) Classification authority is not delegated to persons who only reproduce, extract, or summarize classified information, or who only apply classification markings derived from source material or from a classification guide.

§ 1312.6 Duration of classification.


(1) When determining the duration of classification for information originally classified under Executive Order 12958, an original classification authority shall follow the following sequence:

(i) He/She shall attempt to determine a date or event that is less than 10 years from the date of original classification, and which coincides with the lapse of the information's national security sensitivity, and shall assign such date or event as the declassification instruction;

(ii) If unable to determine a date or event of less than 10 years, he/she shall ordinarily assign a declassification date that is 10 years from the date of the original classification decision;

(iii) He/She may extend the duration of classification or reclassify specific information for a period not to exceed 10 additional years if such action is consistent with the exemptions as outlined in Section 1.6(d) of the Executive Order. This provision does not apply to information contained in records that are more than 25 years old and have been determined to have permanent historical value under Title 44 United States Code.

(iv) He/She may exempt from declassification within 10 years specific information, which is consistent with the exemptions as outlined in Section 1.6 (d) of the Executive Order.

(2) Extending Duration of Classification. Extensions of classification are not automatic. If an original classification authority with jurisdiction over the information does not extend the date or event for declassification, the information is automatically declassified upon the occurrence of the date or event. If an original classification authority has assigned a date or event for declassification that is 10 years or less from the date of classification, an original classification authority with jurisdiction over the information may extend the classification duration of such information for additional periods not to exceed 10 years at a time. Records determined to be of historical value may not exceed the duration of 25 years.

(b) When extending the duration of classification, the original classification authority must:

(1) Be an original classification authority with jurisdiction over the information.

(2) Ensure that the information continues to meet the standards for classification under the Executive Order.

(3) Make reasonable attempts to notify all known holders of the information. Information classified under prior orders marked with a specific date or event for declassification is automatically declassified upon that date or event. Information classified under prior orders marked with Originating Agency's Determination Required (OADR) shall:

(i) Be declassified by a declassification authority as defined in Section 3.1 of the Executive Order.

(ii) Be re-marked by an authorized original classification authority with jurisdiction over the information to establish a duration of classification consistent with the Executive Order.

(iii) Be subject to Section 3.4 of the Executive Order if the records are determined to be of historical value and are to remain classified for 25 years from the date of its original classification.

§ 1312.7 Derivative classification.

A derivative classification means that the information is in substance the same information that is currently classified, usually by another agency or classification authority. The application of derivative classification markings is the responsibility of the person who incorporates, restates, paraphrases, or generates in new form information that is already classified, or one who applies such classification markings in accordance with instructions from an authorized classifier or classification guide. Extreme care must be taken to continue classification and declassification markings when such information is incorporated into OMB documents. The duplication or reproduction of existing classified information is not derivative classification. Persons who use derivative classification need not possess original classification authority.

§ 1312.8 Standard identification and markings.

(a) Original classification. At the time classified material is produced, the classifier shall apply the following markings on the face of each originally classified document, including electronic media:

(1) Classification authority. The name/personal identifier, and position title of the original classifier shall appear on the “Classified By” line.

(2) Agency and office of origin. If not otherwise evident, the agency and office of origin shall be identified and placed below the name on the “Classified By” line.

(3) Reasons for classification. Identify the reason(s) to classify. The classifier shall include, at a minimum, a brief reference to the pertinent classification category(ies), or the number 1.5 plus the letter(s) that corresponds to that classification category in Section 1.5 of the Executive Order.

(4) Declassification instructions. These instructions shall indicate the following:

(i) The duration of the original classification decision shall be placed on the “Declassify On” line.

(ii) The date or event for declassification that corresponds to the lapse of the information's national security sensitivity, which may not exceed 10 years from the date of the original decision.

(iii) When a specific date or event within 10 years cannot be established, the classifier will apply the date that is 10 years from the date of the original decision.

(iv) The exemption category from declassification. Upon determination that the information must remain classified beyond 10 years, the classifier will apply the letter “X” plus a brief recitation of the exemption category(ies), or the letter “X” plus the number that corresponds to the exemption category(ies) in Section 1.6(d) of the Executive Order.

(v) An original classification authority may extend the duration of classification for successive periods not to exceed 10 years at a time. The “Declassify On” line shall be revised to include the new declassification instructions and shall include the identity of the person authorizing the extension and the date of the action.

(vi) Information exempted from automatic declassification at 25 years should on the “Declassify On” line be revised to include the symbol “25X” plus a brief reference to the pertinent exemption categories/numbers of the Executive Order.

(5) The overall classification of the document is the highest level of information in the document and will be conspicuously placed stamped at the top and bottom of the outside front and back cover, on the title page, and on the first page.

(6) The highest classification of individual pages will be stamped at the top and bottom of each page, to include “unclassified” when it is applicable.

(7) The classification of individual portions of the document, (ordinarily a paragraph, but including subjects, titles, graphics) shall be marked by using the abbreviations (TS), (S), (C), or (U), will be typed or marked at the beginning or end of each paragraph or section of the document. If all portions of the document are classified at the same level, this may be indicated by a statement to that effect.

(b) Derivative classification. Information classified derivatively on the basis of source documents shall carry the following markings on those documents:

(1) The derivative classifier shall concisely identify the source document(s) or the classification guide on the “Derived From” line, including the agency and where available the office of origin and the date of the source or guide. When a document is classified derivatively on the basis of more than one source document or classification guide, the “Derived From” line shall appear as “Derived From: Multiple Sources”.

(2) The derivative classifier shall maintain the identification of each source with the file or record copy of the derivatively classified document. Where practicable the copies of the document should also have this list attached.

(3) A document derivatively classified on the basis of a source document that is itself marked “Multiple Sources” shall cite the source document on its “Derived From” line rather than the term “Multiple Sources”.

(4) The reason for the original classification decision, as reflected in the source document, is not required to be transferred in a derivative classification action.

(5) Declassification instructions shall carry forward the instructions on the “Declassify On” line from the source document to the derivation document or the duration instruction from the classification guide. Where there are multiple sources, the longest duration of any of its sources shall be used.

(6) When a source document or classification guide contains the declassification instruction “Originating Agency's Determination Required” (OADR) the derivative document shall carry forward the fact that the source document(s) were so marked and the date of origin of the most recent source document (s).

(7) The derivatively classified document shall be conspicuously marked with the highest level of classification of information.

(8) Each portion of a derivatively classified document shall be marked in accordance with its source.

(9) Each office shall, consistent with Section 3.8 of the Executive Order, establish and maintain a database of information that has been declassified.

(c) Additional Requirements.

(1) Markings other than “Top Secret”, “Secret”, and “Confidential” shall not be used to identify classified national security information.

(2) Transmittal documents will be stamped to indicate the highest classification of the information transmitted, and shall indicate conspicuously on its face the following or something similar “Unclassified When classified Enclosure Removed” to indicate the classification of the transmittal document standing alone.

(3) The classification data for material other than documents will be affixed by tagging, stamping, recording, or other means to insure that recipients are aware of the requirements for the protection of the material.

(4) Documents containing foreign government information shall include the markings “This Document Contains (country of origin) Information”. If the identity of the specific government must be concealed, the document shall be marked” This Document Contains Foreign Government Information,” and pertinent portions marked “FGI” together with the classification level, e.g., “(FGI-C)”. In such cases, separate document identifying the government shall be maintained in order to facilitate future declassification actions.

(5) Documents, regardless of medium, which are expected to be revised prior to the preparation of a finished product - working papers - shall be dated when created, marked with highest classification, protected at that level, and destroyed when no longer needed. When any of the following conditions exist, the working papers shall be controlled and marked in the same manner as prescribed for a finished classified document:

(i) Released by the originator outside the originating activity;

(ii) Retained more than 180 days from the date of origin;

(iii) Filed permanently.

(6) Information contained in unmarked records, or Presidential or related materials, and which pertain to the national defense or foreign relations of the U.S. and has been maintained and protected as classified information under prior orders shall continue to be treated as classified information under the Executive Order and is subject to its provisions regarding declassification.

§ 1312.9 Downgrading and declassification.

Classified information originated by OMB offices will be downgraded or declassified as soon as it no longer qualifies for continued protection under the provisions of the classification guides. Authority to downgrade or declassify OMB-originated information is granted to those authorized to classify (See § 1312.5). Additionally, the Associate Director (or Assistant Director) for Administration is authorized to exercise downgrading and declassification actions up to and including the Top Secret level.

(a) Transferred material. Information which was originated by an agency that no longer exists, or that was received by OMB in conjunction with a transfer of functions, is deemed to be OMB-originated material. Information which has been transferred to another agency for storage purposes remains the responsibility of OMB.

(b) Periodic review of classified material. Each office possessing classified material will review that material on an annual basis or in conjunction with the transfer of files to non-current record storage and take action to downgrade or declassify all material no longer qualifying for continued protection at that level. All material transferred to non-current record storage must be properly marked with correct downgrade and declassification instructions.

§ 1312.10 Systematic review guidelines.

The EOP Security Officer will prepare and keep current such guidelines as are required by Executive Order 12958 for the downgrading and declassification of OMB material that is in the custody of the Archivist of the United States.

§ 1312.11 Challenges to classifications.

OMB employees are encouraged to familiarize themselves with the provisions of Executive Order 12958 and with OMB Manual Sections 1010, 1020, and 1030. Employees are also encouraged to question or to challenge those classifications they believe to be improper, unnecessary, or for an inappropriate time. Such questions or challenges may be addressed to the originator of the classification, unless the challenger desires to remain anonymous, in which case the question may be directed to the EOP Security Officer.

§ 1312.12 Security Program Review Committee.

The Associate Director (or Assistant Director) for Administration will chair the OMB Security Program Review Committee, which will act on suggestions and complaints about the OMB security program.